For six days, I felt like it was just non-stop traveling. I flew in from LAX - Berlin - Moscow. I laid over in Moscow for about 36 hours. I then took a long flight into Siberia. I then took a 33 hour train into Eastern Siberia. Siberia is huge - like I said before. Then I took a six hour bus ride from Eastern Siberia to Lake Baikal. This was my first place, in which I would spend some considerable time: 4 days.
The island is supposed to be a mystical place, inhabited by all kinds of spirits. My host Kataya told me that she had many visions of the world there and that spirits spoke to her. I kept thinking about this in my van ride. Behind me sat three Polish girls. They were incredible with language, as they spoke Polish, English, and Russian. I joined them temporarily. They were all very kind - as they kept feeding me chocolates and bread.
One girl offered me a cigarette. Although I don't smoke, I decided to take the offer, sealing our new found friendship.
But going to the island was not pleasant at all for me. Kataya was right; there are spirits there. I could felt my nostrils become inflamed. Breathing became much harder. The upper part of my lungs felt tight. It felt - as if - a fluid was tightening in my lungs. It was becoming more and more labored to breath. My asthma was flaring up, but why now? I reached into my backpack and took out some zinc pills. Zinc produces steroids, which in turn clear the lungs. It worked - at least well enough where I could breath again. Throughout most of this journey, I was getting homesick. It's the first time that I got homesick so early in my travel. But I wanted to see my children: my new duck, chicken, aquarium, and mystery pet were all waiting at home. Yet, I had to continue - yes, with these Polish girls.
When I came to the edge of Lake Baikal, I was astonished at how clear the water was. Everyone told me it would be crystal clear. It indeed looked like blue liquid glass. You could see every rock underneath. Kataya told me that if you made a wish at the Lake, it would come true. Only ask the spirits. I performed the water ritual, as she told me to.
I went to the edge of the clear lake. I cupped my hands and drank it. The water tasted cold, quenching, and slightly metallic. I then cupped my hands and poured the water over my head. The water ran off my head and fell back down into the edge of the Lake. I wished for one thing: I would like to see my God. Now, I hope that doesn't mean I die early.
I could write much and much about this island. I was there four days and saw many things. For my audience, mainly in the US and NZ, one thing I would like to stress before I move onto the main story is that I walked 1,000 years back in time. The island only had electricity installed 7 years ago. There is no plumbing. There are no paved roads - only dirt ones like you would think of when you think of India or Africa (no offense to those places). Abandoned dogs roam the street, along with their enemies, ferrel cats. Cows and horses often cross. I literally went way, way back into time. And though these people, I can imagine live through a bitter winter and have very little, I know that they lived in direct contrast to the people of Los Angeles. They're still happy - while my people are full of stress, drink too much, do too many drugs, and then have to see a psychotherapist to fix their problems. This thought, made me reflect for quite awhile.
Back to the main story. The Polish girls and I went on an excursion on a four wheel drive all over the island. At on point, I climbed a cliff. The picture is above. The point is called the Three Brothers. I scaled the Second Brother. This could have been a dangerous feat as the cliff stood about 10 stories away from the water below. If I fell, I definitely would have died or been seriously injured. Nonetheless, I went up because I had a feeling inside of me that I should go up. With skill and upper body strength, I managed to climb to the top of that mountain.
On the top of the mountain, I saw a Shaman alter built to the gods. It was comprised of three stones, representing the Eye of Horus, the Masonic Foundation, and the Stone of Illumination. I felt the evil in these stones, and so, I threw each of them into the blue lake. The Eye of Horus hit the side of the cilff then cracked in half. The Masonic Foundation smashed against the jagged rocks below and cracked into five pieces. The Stone of Illumination sank deep down into the bottom of the deepest lake in the world.
Instead, I inscribed in the sand the mysterious symbol of the resurrection. I filled the imprinted dirt with white sand and said a prayer. In my mind, I saw the white sand turn into a golden liquid that looked like glowing, amber honey. The golden symbol floated upward into the air, and the photons of the liquid dispersed into tiny pollens of light that parachuted with the wind. The photons of light went in every direction and blew around the Lake like a million pieces of golden confetti, swirling around the three rock monuments.
I then looked from above - ten stories above - into the deep blue lake and saw how clear it was. I knew the mystery and secret of Lake Baikal. I smiled. I whispered in the wind, "I know your secret." The wind blew in my face. I said it again, "I know your secret." The wind swashed against my face, and I knew why the Lake was so clear and what made it so special.
On the fourth day, I was alone. The Polish girls left the day before. Because I was alone and bored (and reading more Steinbeck), my Russian host took pity on me. He, his friend, and I rode on dirt bike across the hills and forest of the island. I knew I bonded with my host on that dirt bike though, because we both shared a love for toys (as men should). They had brought their fishing supplies to catch a unique fish called Umal. There I was, with two Russians, who I could barely communicate with.
My host was a man only a little taller than me with a medium build and a bit of pot belly. He had light blue eyes and the tip of his nose was red as was his lips. Underneath his aging face, he still kept a sense of adventure and an ultimate spirit of hospitality. His friend was a bit more gruff and lived to fish. He too offered me a cigarette; I took it and smoked it. It had no flavor.
Along the coast, I could see cliffs that went as far as eye could see. On the shoreline of the Lake, they took out an inflatable rubber raft. I used a foot pump and pumped it up, as the other two smoked and waited. They were wearing thick jackets, beanies, and gum boots. After I inflated the raft, I watched the two friends launch the raft into the violent water. The wind was soaring now and blowing chaos into the lake.
As I watched them go a distance from the shore, I couldn't but help to see how they really just looked like toy soldiers in a raft. Lake Baikal was much more extraordinary and fierce. In one instance, it could smoother these men - who took the chance to catch her fish.
I waited on the shore and finally - the Lady of the Lake spoke to me. It was a Spirit with a lady's voice, entrancing and phantasmic at the same time.
She said, "So - you found my secret - son of Adam, and Boy of Science."
"I did. I know it now." I replied.
"But you gave me nothing in exchange for this secret," said the Lake.
"I don't need to. It's not yours to keep. Therefore, it's not yours to give."
She hissed. "I will take from you then. I will take from your life."
I said, "You can't do that. My God gives you permission to live here. It's his secret. Not yours. This place belongs to him."
"Son of Adam and Boy of Science, you will pay for desecrating my alter. You will pay for coming to this island."
"No, you got it all wrong. I've been paid for resurrecting the alter. I've been paid for coming to this island. Now leave me."
It was then, I noticed the men rowing inland. I saw dark clouds brewing over the horizon. Eventually, they walked upon the shore and came towards me.
When I saw them, I asked in my poor Russian, "Fish?"
"No," my host said. He rambled in some Russian, of which my understanding was poor. Yet, I could still understand what he was saying.
My host said, "We have to leave. The storm is coming."